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It is true that a very large number of people have private health insurance and the companies are offering low rate health insurance for the aged until death, without cancellation of policies. The insurance premiums range from $6 to $16.50 to $32 per month. The better plans offer fairly good protection and are to be preferred to the King-Anderson provisions. The Health Insurance Association of America discloses that 136 million people of all ages have insurance today. We will probably find, however, that additional coverage is needed in many cases. The King-Anderson bill would make it compulsory for all to pay additional social security tax. We need a much better plan, which can be devised, for the people of our country. Private help is fine but it will need to be supplemented. (3) The President's hospital insurance proposal, contained in H.R. 3920, intro
duced by Hon. Cecil R. King of California The King-Anderson bill provides for 90 days' hospitalization, 180 days in a nursing home, or 240 calls to the home by a nurse. The patient pays for help beyond these provisions each year, and also pays for part of the 90-day hospital bill. The plan does not include doctor bills, operations, and nonhospital medicine. The system does not protect the really needy cases involving chronic diseases which drain the life savings; it does not protect millions of persons needing medical care, below 65 years of age.
The bill does not cover millions of persons not under social security ; but it does cover millions of families who can afford to pay their own medical expenses. Since hospitals are licensed for this service, there will be many not included in the system; and the people will often be deprived of having their family doctors.
The regulation requiring hospitalization before one can have nursing care is a poor arrangement; and the slow motion of committees to pass judgment about whether one stays in the hospital over 30 days is most unsatisfactory.
The King-Anderson bill would make it compulsory for all to pay additional social security tax. It insists that the medical-care plan be financed through the social security system. It estimates that one-fourth of 1 percent increase in social security tax, paid by both employee and employer, will yield $1,100 million, enough to pay for the service and the system. The opponents find that more than twice the amount is necessary and, eventually, more than $5 billion.
The King-Anderson bill will raise the $4,800 earnings limit to $5,200, which is an increase of $400 over the present standards. The total social security tax will be applied to this increase. The Congress has already passed legislation to increase the present 348 percent social security tax to 458 percent for both employee and employer by 1969. By adding the medical-care increase, the tax will be $254 each for employee and employer, a total of $508. The self-employment tax will be $363.75 instead of $225.60.
If the medical-care system will be operated as inefficiently and unsatisfactorily as the needed and wanted social security system, it will be rather shameful. The people of our country have paid social security taxes since 1937. Most of the 17 million people receiving benefits are disgruntled because of the restrictions against receiving their paid-for benefits if they continue to earn money after becoming eligible for benefits. There are a few other deplorable shortcomings.
The people and businessmen have paid into the social security system some $20 billion in excess of what has been paid out in benefits. The $20 billion was deposited into the Treasury of the United States, and has been spent for other purposes. By 1969, the actuarians of the social security system state, the amount paid in taxes will be around $36 billion in excess of benefits paid out. After 1969, when the 914 tax already passed by Congress will be in operation, the surplus will be even much greater.
The restrictions which prevent people from receiving their full benefits when eligible, because of earning money, should be completely removed. The average benefits to those who paid top social security taxes will approximate $1,320 per year. A family cannot live on $25 to $32 per week with our high cost of living; so most of them need to earn money through wages or self-employment. The people need their full benefits, and are entitled to them. If they receive the $1,320 per year, they can have money toward living, and pay the premium for a good insurance plan. The people would sooner have $1,320 in cash, or whatever they have coming, than not get the cash, and be dependent upon a deficient medical plan. Let us at least first give the people what they have coming in social security benefits, before we take more money away from them in taxes for an unsatisfactory medical system.
We hear much about the need for medical care because millions of individual people earn less than $1,000 or $2,000 per year. Also, millions of families live from hand to mouth, and do not have enough money to buy the merchandise our businessmen have to sell to stay in business. Let us pay some attention to the overtaxation of the people and small business, so that the people can buy the goods we have to sell, and pay for legitimate needs. Some of our spending needs to be confined to home charity and the well-being of our people. When the people, professional men, and small business are prosperous, the country will be in better shape. (4) Proposed alternatives
A bill introduced by Senator Thruston Morton has the basis for the best medicare so far introduced. It would not interfere with the social security benefits the people now have coming or encroach upon their having some economic help after 65 years of age. Man does not live on medicine alone.
The bill introduced by Senator Morton (S. 3386, 1962) would arrange to have adequate premiums for insurance, written by existing insurance companies, paid for out of funds appropriated for that purpose.
The amount of money needed would not exceed what the King-Anderson bill proposed to tax the people and business through social security. The medical service would be adequate for short and long illnesses and made available to those who want it and who earn, say, less than $5,000 per year. The people can then have their own physicians and go the hospital of their choice.
The insurance would be written by existing insurance companies and protect our free enterprise system and render adequate help where it is needed.
In conclusion I think it proper to say that there is a medicare problem and it should be taken care of for our people in the right way. I appreciate the opportunity to have made this statement.
OFFICE OF STATES ATTORNEY,
Madison, S. Dak., November 23, 1963. Hon. WILBUR MILLS, House Ways and Means Committee, House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. MILLS: This letter is written with the sole and only intention of voicing my opposition to the King-Anderson bill now being considered by your committee. This bill is another step toward socialism in the United States. It is about time to call a halt to measures of this kind before it is too late. I respectfully ask that this letter be printed in the hearing record of your committee.
Trusting that you will relegate this proposed bill to the wastebasket, where it rightly belongs, I am, Yours very truly,
J. H. LAMMERS, Lake County States Attorney.
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C., September 25, 1963. Mr. LEO H. IRWIN, Ways and Means Committee, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR LEO: At the request of Mr. George H. Engelter, secretary-manager of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association, Inc., of Bismarck, N. Dak., I am enclosing a resolution adopted by the association. He asks that this be included in the hearings on H.R. 3920. With best wishes. Sincerely,
THOMAS B. CURTIS.
NORTH DAKOTA MOTOR CARRIERS ASSOCIATION, INC.,
Bismarck, N. Dak., August 27, 1963.
At its regularly scheduled meeting on August 15, 1963, in the city of Fargo, N. Dak., the board of directors of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association, Inc., passed the following resolution :
"Whereas a proposal to provide limited health services to persons over 65 years of age has been introduced in the 88th Congress of the United States; and
“Whereas the King bill (H.R. 3920) purports to finance this health care primarily through the social security system by a substantial increase in taxes paid into that program; and
“Whereas in the State of North Dakota there are at this time several FederalState programs of assistance for the aged, including the Kerr-Mills law for the near-needy aged over 65; and
"Whereas it is estimated that the King bill would raise the social security tax in North Dakota nearly $3.8 million the first year of its enactment, thereby putting an additional tax on the businessman for which there is no justification : Now, therefore, be it
“Resolved, That the board of director of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association hereby placed itself on record as officially opposed to the King bill, or similar legislation, which would create an additional tax on the businessman and his employees for which there is no demonstrable need; and be it further
“Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the secretaries of every motor carriers association in the United States; the American Trucking Association; the members of the House Ways and Means Committee; the Congressmen and Senators from the State of North Dakota ; and that those representing said State be respectfully requested to ask the inclusion of this resolution in the record of the hearings on H.R. 3920, at such time as those hearings are held in Washington, D.C."
GEORGE H. ENGELTER, Secretary-Manager. (The above resolution was also submitted by Hon. Don L. Short, a Representative in Congress from the State of North Dakota.)
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C., September 16, 1963. Hon. WILBUR D, MILLS, Chairman, Ways and Means Committee, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR CHAIRMAN MILLS: I have received correspondence from two of my constituents from North Dakota, Mr. George H. Engelter, of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association of Bismarck, and from Mr. G. J. Stafne, of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, at Fargo.
They have requested that their views on H.R. 3920 be brought to your attention in order that their comments may be made a part of the House Ways and Means Committee hearings on this measure. Therefore, I am enclosing thermofax copies of their correspondence. With kindest regards, I am, Very sincerely,
Don L. SHORT, Member of Congress, Second District, North Dakota.
NORTH DAKOTA FARM BUREAU,
Fargo, N. Dak., September 11, 1963. Hon. Don L. SHORT, The House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. SHORT: We are informed that the House Ways and Means Committee will conduct public hearings on the King-Anderson bill, H.R. 3920, within the near future and the Farm Bureau executive committee has requested me to write you and ask that you place in the record the following policy adopted by voting delegates :
“Social security taxes should not be increased to pay medical costs for any portion of the population. The need for medical insurance should be met by expansion of existing private insurance programs without Federal subsidy." Very truly yours,
G. J. STAFNE, Executive Secretary.
THOUGHTS ON THE KING-ANDERSON BILL (H.R. 3920)
(By the Reverend John Doran) In front of a committee as busy and scheduled as is this one, a witness should state his principles and purposes of being here as succinctly as possible. This I propose to do.
First, however, one point must be clarified. No Catholic priest who has spent his whole active life in parish work, dealing with the poor, the diverse divisions of the middle classes, and with the wealthy, can be indifferent to the matter of adequate medical care. It is my concern in general, and has been my concern many times in particular, to see that the parishioners of my different parishes have received medical care when it was needed. No reasonable person can be indifferent to another's medical need.
I find myself, however, in opposition to H.R. 3920, sponsored by Congressman King of California, even though the bill is designed to provide hospital and related services to aged beneficiaries.
When a person finds himself, as I do, in favor of help to those who need help for medical expenses, and opposed to a bill which purports to provide that help, there must be some explanation. There is.
Historically all through Christian times there has been a concern for the sick and especially the needy sick. In the Catholic Church many religious orders were founded for just this purpose of aiding the ill, and especially the needy sick. In most of the other Christian denominations the similar care has been evidenced in the hospitals which they have built and maintained. The State, too, has exercised interest in and care for the needy ill through county and State hospitals and more recently through the provisions of the Kerr-Mills Act.
We hold no quarrel with the fact that there will in all probability always be those whose medical need must be met by private or State assistance. Indeed, the Lord himself said: “The poor you will have always with you.” It will happen at times, it does happen, that State and even Federal aid is necessary to provide medical care adequately for those who cannot provide it for themselves, or for whom private social agencies cannot provide.
The fun amental fault of the bill presently der consideration, I think, and hence the reason for my opposition to it, is that it does not follow the basic and historical approach of giving medical aid to those who need it, but seeks to provide this aid whether needed or not. This is a radical departure from a wise tradition that people should provide for themselves, and that—only when they fail—will an outside agency come to their assistance.
I call the tradition of providing for oneself and family a wise one, for it is consonant with the nature of man that he is bettered and ennobled by the ful. fillment of his obligation insofar as he is able. Just as parents, who out of a false sense of tenderness seek to avoid placing any obligations on their little children, hamper seriously their children's chance of reaching a strong and mature manhood or womanhood; so, too, does government, as it lifts more and more obligations off its citizens, enfeeble these citizens, and make them that much less self-reliant.
You see, gentlemen, I am a great admirer of people. Eighteen years as a parish priest has caused me to admire people even more. I know that they are not perfect, far from it; that they need many times some encouragement and sometimes a rebuke. But, as Higgins says in "My Fair Lady," "by and large we are a marvelous race.” People need to be free to go on about their own business of living, providing that they are not infringing upon the rights of others. Only when they are in some serious difficulty, be it physical or mental, do they need to be taken over. I, as a priest, must respect the rights of every one of my parishioners, from the tiniest child to an old centenarian who used to wait at the door of the church before early mass so that he could accuse me of “liking the bed, young man.” I must respect their rights for they do not belong to me, but rather I to them. Gentlemen, it seems to me that the Government is in the same position, it must respect its people's rights, avoid taking them over except in case of individual and proven need. And for the same reason: people do not belong to the Government, nor do their rights and obligations.
To my mind this bill to provide medical care to those who do not need it is an unwarranted extension of the Federal Government into a field where it does not need to be, and, I submit, therefore does not belong.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. At the parochial school attached to the parish of which I am pastor we have a cafeteria. Those children who wish may eat their lunch there, others may bring their own lunch, others may go home for lunch. Both the Government and I provide a number of free meals for children where there is a hardship at home to finance these meals. This is as it should be. To carry the philosophy of this bill (H.R. 3920) over to our school, I would issue an edict that all lunches are to be free from this time on, and that the costs of the cafeteria would be met by a taxation added to the tuition costs of the school. What would I have done? I would have taken away from the parents of the children their freedom of choice, and though I would have seemed so benevolent in providing free lunches, I would still be charging for these lunches, but now under the guise of a taxation. Those who are eating free now would continue to eat free, because they would be unable to pay the taxation any more than they can now pay for the meal. The others would have had taken from them the right to choose and the right to provide for themselves.
An attempt has been made, I know, to establish that all those, or even most, of those over 65 are in need of this Government assistance to meet their medical bills. With 55 percent of the Nation's elderly (those over 65) now providing health insurance plans of their own, and a Kerr-Mills law to provide for most cases of older citizens in actual need of assistance in their medical bills, it is hard to see just how valid this claim to universal need on the part of the aged to Government assistance in their medical bills can be. I noted somewhere that the University of Michigan survey showed that 96 percent of the aged did not owe any money to doctor, dentist, or hospital. It would appear that the aged are already meeting this need themselves.
This radical departure from our traditional basis of aid is based upon a judgment that all, or even most, of the aged in this country are in need of Government assistance to meet their medical costs. The judgment is that the aged are a mendicant class, a class in need. Personally I doubt if this can be verified, and I feel that the claim itself is an unwarranted reflection upon our society. We do, as a society, give to our aged the opportunity to provide for themselves. Those over 65 comprise 9 percent of the population and receive 8 percent of the total national income; this is according to our Census Bureau. It is, then, hard to see the aged as a class to be poverty stricken, unless we would wish to hold that population in general is poverty stricken, too.
To me a basic theory of the lives of people is this: the right things which an individual can do for himself he should be allowed to do for himself. Only when the individual is incapable of providing for himself does there come to be a need for provision from above. Each man has the right and duty to seek to provide for himself and his dependents the necessities of life. This is basic to his manhood. Only when he has failed (the fault his or of circumstance) should there be an intervention from outside.
This presentation of mine, gentlemen, may seem a bit philosophical. For this I offer no apology; in fact, for this I came across the country to speak for you. As the lawmakers of this Nation you influence and will influence the philosophy of life of all our people. Laws of importance do not remain dead letters on a page; they creep into the daily thinking of the people of the land. When a law is designed by its nature, as I think this one is, to take over the individual responsibility of providing for one's health, and to substitute for this indivdual responsibility another function of the Government supported by enforced taxation (which the social security tax basis for this bill actually is) then that law is just one step further in making the individual the dependent of the state instead of its master, This law, for all the humanitarian oratory which has surrounded it, debases man. It takes away from him his right and duty to provide for his own necessities in the field of health, and reduces him to childlike dependence upon his Government for things which he should, and usually can, provide for himself.
In conclusion, gentlemen, I would urge you: Let the Government continue to help the aged who have a proven need for medical assistance; but do not let it set up a system whereby it infringes upon man's basic right and duty to provide for himself. To do so is to belittle and debase the citizens of our land.